Without Sun: A British Council Film Collection Remix Film
A state of national emergency.
Broken love, without sun.
Without Sun is a remix film created using clips from over 30 source films from the British Council Film Collection (BCFC) of documentary films made in the 1940s. The film’s story was inspired by the images of children receiving sun lamp treatment and the high-tech industrial processes seen in many of the films. Wearing their dark goggles, the images of the children being treated for various conditions appear quite futuristic in their context and reminded me of the film La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962). So, I wanted to reference the work of Chris Marker in this film by making a story about environmental catastrophe caused by over-industrialization.
The structure of the film is similar to a church service with songs and ‘readings’. Unable to find a voiceover narration from the BCFC films that would work in the way that it does in La Jetée with still images throughout, I was relieved to find in Message From Canterbury (George Hoellering, 1944) a structure that I could use for Without Sun. In particular, Message From Canterbury contains four pieces of music including three choral songs sung by the Canterbury Cathedral Choir; ‘Fantasia’ by Henry Purcell, ‘Salvator Mundi’ by Thomas Tallis, ‘O Lord increase my faith’ by Orlando Gibbons, and ‘Remember not, Lord, our offences’ by Henry Purcell. Using these choral songs in particular, I was able to create montages that form the main body of the film, a story of industrial light, bizarre biological mutation, and treatment of illness.
The intention of the film was to try and make it appear as much as possible as a film that could have existed in the 1940s, another film from the Collection. The story of the film imagines that in 1946, Britain is in a state of national emergency where through atmospheric pollution there is a lack of sunlight to the extent to which there is a reliance on the manufacture of artificial light, ‘wonderful lamps’. However, this is a bind, since this requires more industrialization and manufacture which in turn will further damage the environment. The position is so acute that a police and armed state is in place along with heavy censorship of media such as film.
There is also a second version of the film with the music from Message From Canterbury replaced by five tracks by Moby. These tracks are used with permission from Mobygratis.com, a site that is a resource for independent and non-profit filmmakers, film students, and anyone in need of free music for their independent, non-profit film or video. The Moby music replaces the five sacred choral songs and overtures in the original remix version of Without Sun. Viewers may prefer this more contemporary soundtrack and find more affinity between image and sound. The ‘Be The One‘ section is particularly powerful.
As well as the two versions of the film, you will also find a set of production notes that explain how the various sequences in the films were made and their source material from the BCFC, and a complete list of all the BCFC films used in Without Sun.
Without Sun (mobygratis.com remix)
The following films used in the creation of Without Sun are part of the British Council Film Collection, 120 short documentaries made by the British Council during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played.
View, download and play with the Collection here: